Grow Forward

You’ve heard people say, “I’m moving forward with my life.”  Or, “Let’s go forward with this project.”  People run forward at times.  They even stumble forward, sometimes in what appears to be the dark.

Move, go, run, stumble, crawl, there are many ways to expend your energy in a forward direction.

But how about growing forward?  Similar to how a flower grows with the proper soil, adequate water, and ample sunlight, we experience human growth.  Our human growth takes factors such as nutrition, exercise, sleep, and yes, even love we receive into account.

That’s one type of growth, human growth.  However, that’s not the growing forward we do when we come visit this blog.  My hope is that you, the reader, will grow forward on a soul level.  Grow forward in your quest for Truth.  Grow forward in your spirituality.

Grow Forward as You Learn to Trust.

Before I began to study the nature of trusting, I held the belief that to “master” trust, one must learn to trust others.  The better you got at trusting others, the more skilled you were at trusting.  It made perfect sense at the time.

Later, I came to see it very differently.  Like most things in life, placing the focus outwardly is typically not the key.  By facing our attention inward, beginning with trusting ourselves first, that’s where the shift occurs.

For instance, rather than trying to figure out what the other person’s going to do (outward focus), lead from a place of knowing that you can trust yourself enough to react in such a way that supports your highest and best interest.  Let me say that again.  Trust yourself enough to react in your best interest.

Once you’re able to truly trust yourself, what other people do almost becomes irrelevant.  Trust yourself enough not to tolerate others continued hurtful behavior.  Trust yourself enough to know when to stop, and when to continue (a diet, a job, a marriage, a friendship, a ‘fill in the blank’).

Once I understood this lesson, I experienced a Grow Forward moment.  And since the topic was Trust, I felt compelled to share it with you.

How about you?  Have you experienced any Grow Forward moments?  If so, I encourage you to share.  Grow Forward moments present themselves to teach us invaluable lessons, and by you sharing with us, we’re all able to learn and grow forward as well.

 

Wilted and Parched

I spent the most relaxing weekend in Austin with a girlfriend.  No kids, no schedule, no demands, no nothin’.

When I arrived on Friday, my friend was bringing a plant back to life.  As she gingerly placed it in the sink, she called me over to look at its sad, sad state, wilted and parched.  As she drenched it in water, she was quite convinced that it would revive and resume its beautiful state.

I had my doubts.  (A few hours later, she had her doubts, too.)

There have been times in my life when I’ve felt wilted and parched.  As if no amount of rest or sleep could plump my skin or satisfy my thirst.

During my teens and 20’s I didn’t even realize when I was feeling depleted.    So I would just plow on.  And the more I pushed through, ignoring the warning signs my body was giving me, the more depleted I became, until finally I’d come down with a cold or strep throat or something that forced me into bed to rest.  I remember one time, I had neglected myself so, that my husband took me to the hospital, only for them to hook me up to an IV; I was severely dehydrated.

Our immune systems become weak the more we tax them.  Lack of sleep, an improper diet, as well as repeatedly exposing ourselves to negative thoughts, all have an impact on our physical bodies.

Wilted and parched.

The answer was so simple:  Stop.  Rest.  Drink some water.  Engage in activities that fed my spirit.  And although the answer was simple, I’m embarrassed to say it took me years to learn the lesson Life kept trying to teach me.

I must confess, lately I’ve been feeling wilted and parched.  I’ve sensed the slowly rising need to recharge my battery.  Hence, my weekend trip to Austin.  I was the wilted and parched plant.

It’s incredible what a weekend of Amy’s Ice Cream, sipping tea and chatting, carnitas, zero demands of me or my time, and a pitcher of sangria on a HOT July afternoon can do.

On a similar hot July day, seventeen years ago, my mother-in-law pulled me aside on her deck and shared this bit of advice with me, “Make sure things are right with Mommy first.  If things are right with Mommy, things will be right in your house.”

And although I wasn’t a mommy yet, I knew what she meant.  I saw the ‘house‘ she referred to as something both concrete, the traditional noun picture of a house, but also an intangible house, more like the temple where body and spirit reside.

As I sit here typing, sipping tea, my friend still peacefully sleeping, I look over at the plant.  Although it took several more hours to revive than my friend had anticipated, it has, indeed perked back to life.  It was sorely wilted and parched.

This weekend with Kelli has been wonderful.  I laughed so hard yesterday, I had tears streaming down my face – - on two separate occasions!!  And no, this was not even remotely close to when the sangria was being consumed.

This weekend has been a nice kick start.  But like the plant, who took easily twice as long to perk up this time around, I have more replenishing to do.  These next several months I’ve decided to dedicate to feeding my spirit.  To healing.  I’m embarking on a new chapter in my life, one which is sure to be filled with many new life experiences and lessons.  And although it’s with a slight hint of reservation, my gut is urging me to share these upcoming experiences and lessons with you.

So, I thank you in advance, for embracing my writing and allowing me to share with you.  It’s through your encouragement of my writing that I continue to learn and grow, and for that, I am very grateful.

God’s Got Jokes

When I sat down at my favorite tea house to interview Rodney Harper, a man who wrote a book called, God’s Got Jokes, I was ready to laugh.  Jokes?  Okay Rodney, tell me some jokes.  Make me laugh.  Toward the end of our time together, we did just that, laugh and laugh.  But in the beginning, he had a story to tell, and I was ready to listen.

Rodney began by painting a picture of his life five years ago – foreclosure on his home, repossessed car, bills mounting higher by the day.  Not a pretty picture.  He also expressed the pressure he felt to provide financially for another person, his wife.  He said, “My wife likes to eat every day.  Usually three meals.”  Huge grin on his face.  (Oh yeah, there’s a jokester in there for sure!)

Seriously though, the visual Rodney presented was pretty grim.  He wasn’t sure how he was going to bounce back.  As he sat across from his wife, discussing how they were going to pay the bills, it suddenly hit him:  just as God had put Jonah in the belly of the whale to deliver him exactly where Jonah did NOT want to go, Rodney was experiencing the same thing.  He stopped and laughed, “God’s Got Jokes.  I’m exactly where I don’t want to be.  But here I am.”

Rodney found himself with a choice to make.  “Do I continue to do what I’ve been doing, relying solely on myself?  Or is it time to stop and get back to the basics of Life?”  He chose the latter: to get back to the plain and simple Truth of What Is.

As the days progressed, Rodney would hear God’s voice luring him with the words, “Come on, Rodney, I’ve got a project for you.”  To which Rodney would respond, “But I’ve already got a project, I’m trying to get a job!”  See, Rodney was content enough to be back, reading his Bible, just as his grandmother had taught him to do as a child, but he was still not completely submitting himself to a higher plan.

Not aware of exactly when the shift had taken hold of him, the next thing he knew, he was immersed in the writing of a book.  He admitted it was the first time he had purposely set out to do something for God, and the result was that the book just flowed.  “The more I poured out, the more He poured in.  I came to realize how gracious God is.  Everything we need, down to every question, He has already laid out for us,” Rodney explained.
Throughout our time together, I heard Rodney speak of the many lessons he learned through writing the book and listening within.  Here are a few lessons he shared:

  • we’re taken through some really tough things so we’re able to hear
  • we’re not meant to wait until something tragic happens to take action
  • just because you have a steady income doesn’t mean you’re “off the clock” with God.  It’s easy to have Faith when things are looking good.

But the one theme Rodney spoke of more than any others was Trust.  He believes that if you Trust God, He can’t do anything but take care of you.  Nice philosophy there.  No wonder we got along so well.  :-)

Before we parted ways, Rodney shared, “I’m at a place now where I’m enjoying life a lot more…and that’s a peace you just can’t buy.”

Thank you for sharing your time, your positive energy, and your story with me, Rodney.  You have blessed me with what I love most – the ability to connect with another person while sharing your Truth.

“What I give you through God’s Got Jokes is encouragement.  What He gives you is Life.”  ~Rodney D. Harper

www.GodsGotJokes.com

If you liked this article, please click on the ‘Share’ button.   Thank you!!   Love, Leslie

To Trust Life is to Trust the Natural Laws of the Universe

Our TLT story today is half philosophy, half story – - told to me by a grown man, reflecting back on an experience he had at age three in his native country of Japan.  This particular friend has been an extraordinary teacher to me, a mentor really.

As we settle in to my favorite coffee/tea house, both enjoying egg salad sandwiches with a mutual friend of ours, I can feel myself begin to eagerly anticipate what I know is just minutes away: a story which is sure to be meaningful to me (and hopefully to you as well)…and the teaching that I know will come with it.

But before we begin, I’d like to remind you about the language I referred to in my article of Jan. 28th, entitled “Just What Do I Believe?”  In short, we all use different terminology to, at times, convey the same idea, depending on our background, culture, etc.  Please do not get caught up on language (for more detail, simply refer to paragraph 3 in the aforementioned article).   I am specifically referring to the verbiage of ‘Great Intelligence’.  That doesn’t speak to you?  Fine.  Substitute with God, Our Creator, Universe, etc.

Enough set up.  Sandwiches consumed, sipping tea, my friend begins:

“I feel my story will be better understood if I lay some foundation before I tell it.  Human beings have struggled for millions of years for survival.  The whole process of survival has led to the conditioning of the mind.  That is to  say, there is a fixed stimulus – a response reflex, some are simple and others complex.  The fight for survival as an individual, family, clan, tribe, nation, religious entity, and so on, has divided mankind.  The conditioned brain has become dependent on thought process, memory, and the ego for its survival.

At this point, you must be wondering, how else would we survive and what else is there to be dependent upon?  To me, Trusting Life is to trust the natural laws of the universe governed by the Great Intelligence.  Just look at the planets revolving around each other in perfect harmony.  Look at the existence of all those beautiful planets.  Look at the operation of the natural laws at all levels – - sub-atomic to the entire universe.  We realize it is all governed by the Great Intelligence.  Just looking at the natural beauty that surrounds us, it gives us a glimpse into that magnificent Intelligence.  We can see how it is taking care of the whole universe and how the whole universe is Trusting Life for its survival.

After saying that, I see that all we have to do is Trust Life, or that Great Intelligence, to guide us moment to moment, as it guides the whole universe.  Which leads me to my story:

I was raised in a small town in Japan from birth until I left for college.  When I think of my early childhood memories, I am reminded of my favorite pastime: appreciating the beauty of nature.  I would sit for hours totally absorbed, looking at the rain, watching the sunset or sunrise.  I would wake up early, just to gaze at the bright stars on the dark background of night.

The best time for me to watch nature was around sunrise.  I used to walk around the grounds outside my house, even as early as three years old, enjoying the nature that surrounded me.

One morning was very different.  I saw a man cutting the clothesline attached to the poles in the field in front of our house.  It seemed very odd to my three year old mind.  I finished my customary walk, and came back inside my house.  But all of the sudden, and completely outside of my normal routine, I felt a strange urge to go outside again.  This urge led me to the front of our next door neighbor’s house.  Right before me, in their front veranda, I saw the same man hanging with the clothesline around his neck.

I had never seen anything like this before – not on television, not in movies.  I didn’t have the thoughts to even process what was going on, but I knew this was serious.  I ran back into my house to wake my father and uncle.  After great effort (they were both sound asleep), I took them and showed them what I had seen.  They got a knife and jumped inside the veranda, re-stacked the chairs the man had used to “kick off” from, and my father started cutting the clothesline while my uncle supported his legs.  The man dropped down to the floor.  [I was watching the whole ordeal, knowing the man was going to be okay; I just knew.]  As they sprinkled water on his face, the man started to breathe and move.  Although I knew he was going to be okay, I still found myself feeling relieved.  The man was taken to the hospital and I saw him a few days later, walking around with no obvious damage.

On that morning, I feel I was guided by that Great Intelligence.  The man’s days were not over.  I feel because I was in tune with the moment, thus in tune to the guidance by the Great Intelligence, I was aware of the space around me.  I must have felt this man hanging himself even if I was not seeing him do it physically.

I have observed that inner silence, stillness, quietness, and trust are the key to let Love, Intelligence, and Sacredness flow through us without the static noise of our ego, conditioning, and inner chatter obstructing them.  Also, I must say I realized from the article, “88 Cents (Part 2),” that sometimes we go through the struggle and conflicts to learn the lessons of Life and at the end, surrender for The Guidance and Intelligence to work through us.

Thank you, Leslie for giving us an opportunity to share our ideas and stories with the rest of our fellow human beings and learn from each other.”

~~~~

Wow.  What an incredible story, as well as the teaching that set the stage for us.

After listening intently to my friend, I was reminded of a scientific article I ran across several months ago that discussed a similar concept.  The author, whose name I didn’t capture, was discussing the difference between concentrating/thinking vs. tuning in.  Here is an excerpt from the article that mirrors what my friend was saying above:

Shireen (the scientist being interviewed): “There is a clear difference between concentrating and tuning in.  If I concentrate, I try with all my might to achieve something with my thoughts.  Usually you achieve just the opposite.  What we call “thinking”, is actually mainly about doubting.  You wind up in all kinds of emotions – “I can’t do this, what am I doing here?” – and you don’t achieve your aim.   Tuning in means not thinking, [while] making contact with the information that’s already there.  You become one with the information and resonate with it.”

Author:  “Anyone who thinks that only the Mahatma or the Saviour can do that, now has scientific evidence of the contrary.  Each one of us is capable.  Each one of us is a creator.  Each one of us can change the world.  And that doesn’t have to be an endless, difficult process – just think of the Aboriginals’ ability to heal broken bones.  It can happen today.  It can happen now.”

~~~~

And it does happen daily.  It happened on the morning, all those years ago, when a three year old little boy in Japan felt he was being beckoned to walk outside, for no other reason, than he was tuned in with the moment, with his environment, with IT ALL.  And for the ultimate reason, being responsible for saving a man’s life.

Thank you, friend.  Thank you for sharing your story and teaching.  I look forward to continuing to learn, grow, and share with you.